Search

Arsenal star admits defeats at Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton ruined title dream

13:19 29 April 2014

Liverpool

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (right) and Arsenal's Per Mertesacker battle for the ball

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Per Mertesacker admits Arsenal’s slow starts away to top-four rivals “killed” their hopes of maintaining a title challenge throughout the season.

Apart from a brief spell just before Christmas, the Gunners headed the Premier League table for a five-month period between September and February.

But a 5-1 thrashing by Liverpool at Anfield prompted their slide – and further heavy defeats away to Chelsea and Everton tipped Arsene Wenger’s team into a battle just to hold on to fourth place.

Although the Gunners are just one result away from confirming their spot in next season’s Champions League qualifiers, Mertesacker concedes that lessons must be learned before they can harbour serious title ambitions.

“Of course everyone wanted us to get further up [the table], especially the fans,” said the German defender. “We were top of the league for a long time and everyone dreamt about maybe getting the title.

“But it takes more than just to stay at the top until the winter period. I think we couldn’t afford those away games against the big teams, so we didn’t deserve to be in the first three spots.

“That is something for next year that we have to manage much better. I think those away games killed us this year and hopefully we can learn from that.

“We have to learn quickly how to play and how to defend early in those away games, the first 20 to 25 minutes when you go there and they try to get you on the break.

“I think it was very similar in each game – the first 20 minutes we lost some balls in the middle of the park and they got us on the break. That’s something we have to look at next year.”

Despite the disintegration of their title bid, Arsenal have responded well in recent weeks and Monday’s 3-0 win against Newcastle was their third straight victory.

That makes the Gunners firm favourites to finish fourth, a position that could be confirmed even before they face West Brom in their final home game of the season on Sunday (kick-off 1.30pm).

Everton will be unable to catch Wenger’s side if they lose to Manchester City on Saturday, and Mertesacker feels Arsenal’s current form bodes well for their prospects next season.

“We play on Sunday so we have to wait, but we have it in our own hands and we want to secure the fourth spot,” he added. “We just have to think about the next game.

“The possibility to secure Champions League football was another test for us.

“Last year we managed to deal with an even more difficult situation – with 10 games to go, no-one expected us to be in the top four.

“This year, with a couple of injuries, we struggled heavily but we regrouped very well and how we managed this situation was maybe more important than last year.

“Everyone questioned us and our football qualities and I think the way we came back as a team makes us stronger for the future. We have improved a lot and we’re in good shape.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino says he felt compelled to confirm his commitment to Tottenham to prove to the club’s current stars and prospective signings that he will be staying at White Hart Lane.

Saturday, April 30, 2016
Arsenal's Gabriel Paulista celebrates Danny Welbeck's winner against Norwich

Arsenal 1 Norwich City 0

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino hopes to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at Manchester United and create his own legacy at Tottenham after announcing he has agreed a two-year contract extension.

Dele Alli (right) appeared to punch West Bromwich Albion's Claudio Yacob during Monday's 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane and has been banned for three games

Dele Alli will continue to take part in training until the end of the season, even though he cannot play for Tottenham, to maintain his fitness ahead of this summer’s Euro 2016 Championship.

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino has announced he has verbally agreed a two-year contract extension at Tottenham, extending his stay at White Hart Lane until 2021.

Thursday, April 28, 2016
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe  (back row, centre) visited Haringey Police Boxing Club on Tottenham High Road. Pic: Dieter Perry

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe visited Haringey Police Boxing Club to meet a contingent of fighters who are hoping to compete in the Haringey Box Cup in June.

Thursday, April 28, 2016
Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla of Arsenal (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Although they spurned the chance to win the league title, Arsenal Under-21s still have a chance to reach the top tier of second-string football via the play-offs.

Thursday, April 28, 2016
James Harris in action for Middlesex

Middlesex seamer James Harris feels squad rotation is essential if the club are to successfully negotiate a punishing schedule during the coming weeks.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe